Singing Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

Singing Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

"When we face life challenges, we must find a way not only to survive them, but in time, to actually grow from them. We must find a way to keep on keeping on, no matter how hard or painful life becomes."

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"If life challenges are a treasure, why do very few people desire it?"

I have heard often from my more spiritual friends that life's challenges and life's suffering don't have to be bad things, as we often think. No, the conventional manner of thinking is not that they are good things - but it is a thought process I've learned to embrace as the past year has gone on. I've recently explored a Bible plan titled, "Singing Through The Storm," a coping mechanism for dealing with the metaphor of being in the storm, being in the peak and middle of life's suffering. What drew me to this plan, in particular, was author Kelli Horn's blurb that, "What counts in life is not what happens to us, but how we respond to it."

So how do we respond? We sing.

It is part of the human condition to feel pain and suffer, and to feel like it's not easy. Even Kelli says that "I hate the pain, but I have to accept that in order to experience the future blessings." But she goes on to say that "life challenges are actually one of life's 'best kept secrets.' if you change your perspective and learn to respond wisely to it." At the end of the day, Kelli notes that her sufferings and challenges are what make her a better person. That, after all, is what life is all about.

She goes on to note that the greatest treasure she has learned in the face of her sufferings is that "when we face life challenges, we must find a way not only to survive them, but in time, to actually grow from them. We must find a way to keep on keeping on, no matter how hard or painful life becomes." That is the purpose of singing, but how do we do it? How do we "sing through the storm, like never before"?

The best example in the scripture of how we can "keep on keeping on regardless of our emotions or circumstances" is the scene of Paul and Silas singing while imprisoned in a Philippian jail in Acts 16:25. While Paul and Silas were singing to God, there was an earthquake that rattled the jail and let all the prisoners escape, except two: Paul and Silas. The jailer, in discovering this, attempted to kill himself because he thought Paul and Silas had escaped. But they didn't escape. They keot singing and had unconditional joy in God, and stopped the jailer from killing himself. The jailer, struck by the joy of Paul and Silas, asked them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

No one knows what song they were singing. It's left ambiguous for a reason, I suppose, and if we have the ability to sing through our own storms, we should use the song that is the most meaningful for us. For me, it would be uncharacteristic and perhaps not all too Christian: I would sing My Chemical Romance's "Famous Last Words" that allow me to "keep on keeping on." Like Paul and Silas, I would sing each word passionately and graciously, and turn my sorrows and grief into the positive.

Music can often put into words a lot of emotions that we can't. Kelli tells us that "a song is worth a thousand antidepressants. Specific songs can comfort us, bring a smile to our face, cause us to be grateful, [and] challenge us to treat others with kindness." She urges us, in this plan, to choose three songs that are special to our hearts to listen to every day for several weeks. Kelli wants to encourage us to "to keep God, family, and growth in clear focus," even amidst the turmoil in our lives, even when we feel like we're wandering through the valley of the shadow of death, through hell.

So I implore you to find three songs that you know by heart, three songs that mean everything to you, and sing them. They won't magically fix things, but they can guide you through the storm.

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?

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It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

1. How did I get to the gym? Didn't I walk here? That should count as exercise

2. Why am I here?

3. Are these clothes tighter than they were last time?

4. Why is every single machine full? What am I supposed to do?

5. Is everyone looking at me?

6. I can't remember where anything is here

7. Okay, I am going to set this at the easiest level

8. Can I go home yet?

9. Is 3 minutes long enough? No, darn it.

10. How many calories have I burned? Only 10 are you kidding me!

11. Why is everyone else here going so hard? I look like a slacker

12. I am so sweaty right now

13. Maybe I should get a smoothie as a reward for working out

14. I am literally dying right now. I am about to drop dead

15. Only 5 more minutes to go. I've got this!

16. I don't got this

17. Why do people come here every day?

18. Last minute I'm going to go so hard right now

19. Just kidding that two seconds was good enough. I'm going to cool down for the last 58

20. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I am done!

21. I am so tired

22. My body is so sore

23. I can't believe I have to walk home now. I've already done my exercising for the day

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